|A small-scale pepper grinder that crushes dried, whole red peppers into small flakes and easily separates seeds|
Project Launched: June 2009
Current Status: Working in collaboration with Compatible Technology International (CTI) to improve design and launch pilot production in Ethiopia
Team: Samuel Hamner, Scott Sadlon, CTI volunteers
Dried red pepper is the most widely consumed spice in the world, eaten daily by one quarter of the world’s population. Worldwide production is estimated at 2.8 billion kilograms per year. An estimated 400,000 women in Ethiopia process peppers by hand, a laborious procedure that turns fresh peppers into higher-value products: dried flakes, seeds, and powder. The tiring work leaves their hands covered in hot pepper oil and their eyes, noses, and throats burning from pepper dust in the air.
While visiting local markets throughout Ethiopia, our team had the opportunity to meet many women who process peppers for income. These women are entrepreneurs, looking for ways to help provide income for their families, while also creating an ingredient that is an essential part of Ethiopian cuisine. Their stories have inspired us to develop a tool that aims to improve their lives by enabling them generate more income and decreasing the negative health effects of processing peppers.
The Pepper Eater is an affordable, hand- cranked device that mills dried peppers at least four times faster than flaking by hand. It allows for continuous processing and easy seed separation while limiting contact with pepper dust and oil, which prevents long-term exposure to harmful capsaicin.
What’s Happening Now?
We have partnered with Compatible Technology International (www.compatibletechnology.org), a US-based non-profit with over 30 years of experience in delivering post-harvest food processing devices to developing economies. CTI has taken the lead on the project to help make the Pepper Eater a reality. Scott Sadlon and Samuel Hammer still serve as consultants on a volunteer basis; most recently we traveled to Ethiopia with CTI volunteers in March 2012 to establish a new on-the-ground partnership and test the latest Pepper Eater design. We are also currently seeking funding for the next fiscal year. Please see our recent proposal for a grant from HCD Connect.